Optional protocols

Two optional protocols were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May 2000. The first, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, requires governments to ensure that children under the age of eighteen are not recruited compulsorily into their armed forces, and calls on governments to do everything feasible to ensure that members of their armed forces who are under eighteen years of age do not take part in hostilities. This protocol entered into force on 12 July 2002;[9] currently, 150 states are party to the protocol and another 21 states have signed but not ratified it.[9] The second, the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, requires states to prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. It entered into force on 18 January 2002;[10] currently, 161 states are party to the protocol and another 14 states have signed but not ratified it.[10] A third, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure, which would allow children or their representatives to file individual complaints for violation of the rights of children, was adopted in December 2011[49] and opened for signature on 28 February 2012. The protocol currently has 35 signatures and two ratifications: it will enter into force on the tenth ratification. The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Optional protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Annex I of a resolution (54/263) on 25 May 2000.[3] The protocol came into force on 12 February 2002. The protocol requires that ratifying governments ensure that while their armed forces can accept volunteers below the age of 18, they can not be conscripted and "States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensu e that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities".[4] Non-state actors and guerrilla forces are forbidden from recruiting anyone under the age of 18 for any purpose. Currently, 142 states are party to the protocol and another 23 states have signed but not ratified it. The sentence "States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities" was adapted from Article 77.2 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, adopted in 1977, with an alteration from fifteen years to eighteen years and some other minor modifications. ("The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces.") The ICRC commentary on Protocol I makes clear that it does not require a complete ban on the use of children in conflict. The ICRC had suggested that the Protocol require parties to "take all necessary measures;" however, the final text instead uses the wording "take all feasible measures" which is not a total prohibition on their doing so. Furthermore, refraining from recruiting children under fifteen does not exclude children who volunteer for armed service. During the negotiations over the clause "take a part in hostilities," the word "direct" was added opening up the possibility that child volunteers could be involved indirectly in hostilities, gathering and transmitting military information, helping in the transportation of arms and munitions, provision of supplies, etc.

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